Immune System Discovery Could Aid Fight Against TB

A key aspect of how the body kicks the immune system into action against tuberculosis is revealed in research published today. The authors, writing in Science, hope that their research could aid the development of novel vaccines and immunotherapies to combat TB, which is responsible for two million deaths each year.

The cause of TB is a slow-growing bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Scientists have known for some time that when host cells are invaded by this bacterium, the host cells are able to call up additional immune cells such as lymphocytes to fight them and try to limit the damage which the bacteria can cause.

The new research, by scientists from Imperial College London, the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and other international institutions, identifies a receptor on the host cells which triggers the immune cells’ response to tuberculosis. The scientists demonstrated that without this receptor, known as CCR5, mycobacteria were able to thrive inside host cells, as the immune cells did not receive the signal from CCR5 to attack them.

The scientists hope that their findings could enable a novel vaccine or immunotherapy to be developed which could artificially kick the immune cells into action in the same way as CCR5. This could boost the immune response to TB.

Both types of interventions are urgently required, since the BCG vaccine does not offer optimal protection and the current treatment regimens for tuberculosis require at least 6 months medication. This encourages the development of multi-drug resistant strains, as patients often do not complete the full course of treatment.

Dr Beate Kampmann, from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Clinical Tropical Medicine and the Department of Paediatrics at Imperial College London, and one of the authors of the study, said: “These results describe a novel mechanism whereby Mycobacterium tuberculosis communicates with the human immune system. Another piece of this complex jigsaw has been filled in, which will help us to target TB with very specific drugs or vaccines.

“We can now test potential vaccines or drug candidates for the desired effect, as we understand better how they should act,” adds Dr Kampmann.

The scientists believe their research will also be of interest to those developing new drugs to combat HIV, which work by inhibiting the CCR5 receptor, which plays an important role in HIV-infection. The new research suggests that such drugs could impair the ability to fight off TB in HIV-infected patients receiving CCR5 receptor antagonists. TB is a big problem for individuals with HIV, as their weakened immune system renders them highly susceptible to this disease.

This research was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the UK Medical Research Council and the Swiss National Science Foundation. It was carried out by scientists from Imperial College London, UK; the University of Cambridge, UK; the University of Oxford, UK; National University of Singapore; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; the University of Basel, Switzerland; and Lionex Diagnostics and Therapeutics GmbH, Germany.

Contact: Laura Gallagher

Imperial College London

Norway Contributes $159 Million To UNICEF Under New Cooperation Programme

The Government of Norway renewed its commitment to children today, signing an agreement to provide an additional financial contribution to UNICEF programmes for children, with a particular focus on girls, approximately $159 million for the 2008-2009 period – an increase of $9 million over previous years.

The donation comes as an addition to Norway’s contribution to UNICEF regular resources in 2008, amounting to $74 million.

Hilde F. Johnson, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director and Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development, sealed the agreement during a meeting on “Girls’ education as a driver for gender equality and development.” The meeting was held on the occasion of the Education for All High-Level Meeting which brings together education and development ministers, leading officials from international organizations and agencies, and representatives from civil society to urge strategies for accelerating progress towards achieving quality Education for All by 2015.

“Education, and especially girls’ education, is a critical investment in the future,” Johnson said. “When girls go to school, every development goal set by the international community becomes achievable.”

Most of the funding – 85 per cent – will go toward supporting UNICEF programmes in basic education and gender equality. The remaining funds will be allocated for programmes in water and sanitation, child protection, policy advocacy and partnerships for children’s rights.

“Let us not forget that every child has a right to education. More than 70 million children are still not in school. Together with UNICEF, we now focus on reaching the girls and the many children living in countries experiencing situations of fragility who still do not have access to basic education”, said Solheim.

Norway is UNICEF’s second largest government donor, contributing nearly $198 million in 2007.


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


First Of Its Kind Alzheimer’s Integrated Consumer Campaign Sets The Record Straight As Prevalence Of The Disease Escalates, USA

A new campaign, the first of its kind from the Alzheimer’s Association, aims to educate Americans and compel action in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. With the baby boomers turning 60 last year, bringing with them escalated concern about Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on America’s healthcare system, there is a great need for action.

The truth about Alzheimer’s is very alarming, more than five million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s disease and someone new is added to those ranks every 72 seconds. The number one risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age and experts predict the toll of Alzheimer’s disease alone could be as high as $400 billion by the year 2030 – enough to literally bankrupt the Medicare system.

The Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leader in Alzheimer’s care and research, created this integrated campaign which includes advertising, celebrity champions, public relations, online and grassroots marketing and advocacy.

New print ads fill information gap: convey reality of Alzheimer’s

A new poll shows that while more than half of Americans know someone with Alzheimer’s, 94 percent say they don’t know much about the disease and it’s not on their radar. This new campaign aims to overcome the misperception that Alzheimer’s is just about old people forgetting things. This perception allows people to become complacent about the disease and fail to see the rising number of people who are affected by Alzheimer’s.

The ads, by Atlanta-based TG Madison, hit newsstands today. They appear in more than 22 top-tier publications, major online portals and news/magazine sites throughout the country including Time, Newsweek, Prevention, Real Simple, MSN and CNN.

According to John Carter, EVP, Executive Creative Director, TG Madison, the images in the new print ads represent the struggle someone with the disease – and their loved ones – experience as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. The stirring ads decisively ask Americans to stand up and represent people who suffer from the disease. Each treatment features one word larger than the others, in purple, which invites a certain action – Voice, Move or Open.

For example, one ad reads:

Someone suffering from Alzheimer’s will lose the ability to form thoughts, remember simple words and ultimately, communicate. You can be their VOICE.

More than 30 stars appear in new portrait exhibit for Alzheimer’s

The campaign also includes a new portrait exhibit featuring stories and video from well-known faces like David Hyde Pierce, Dick Van Dyke, Ricki Lake, Peter Gallagher, Victor Garber, Olympia Dukakis, Lea Thompson, Kate Burton, Diamond Jim, winner of Westminster Dog Show and Alzheimer’s therapy dog and others. The portrait collection was photographed by well-known celebrity and fashion photographer, Robert Trachtenberg. It includes both print stills of personalities committed to making a difference and personal video essays from stars who share how Alzheimer’s has affected them.

The collection was unveiled this week at New York’s Top of the Rock and will travel to at least 12 cities this year as part of this nationwide comprehensive public education campaign from the Alzheimer’s Association.

“If Alzheimer’s ever was cause for public concern, it’s now,” said David Hyde Pierce, Alzheimer’s Association board member and spokesperson for the campaign. “Our aging population compels the need for effective disease-modifying drugs. As individuals, as families, as a country, we can’t afford this disease, physically, emotionally, or financially.”

Shining light on the cause

Today, New York’s Rockefeller Center is illuminated in purple in support of Alzheimer’s research and funding.

By mid-century, without a cure or effective treatments to delay the onset or progression of the disease, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow to as many as 16 million, which is more than the current total population of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston combined.

Urging action now: Enrolling five million Champions

The campaign challenges five million Americans to become a Champion – one for every person currently living with the disease – to fight against Alzheimer’s. A Champion is one who will OPEN minds and learn the facts about Alzheimer’s to help us educate others; VOICE support, become an advocate, help spread the word about this disease; and MOVE the Alzheimer’s Association’s cause forward by joining a local Memory Walk, donating to the Alzheimer’s Association or volunteering at the local chapter.

To find out more about becoming a Champion, visit actionalz. This new Web site, created specifically for the campaign, provides many ways to get involved, information on the disease and excerpts from the celebrity portrait exhibit.

Americans can purchase a campaign T-shirt, like the one the celebrities are wearing in the exhibit, and learn more about Alzheimer’s by visiting actionalz. Visitors to the site can also help by advocating, registering for a local Memory Walk or making a donation online.

Introduced in 2007, the Champions Consumer Campaign was created by the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leader in Alzheimer’s care and research, in a national effort to dispel public misperceptions and move people to take action towards a world without Alzheimer’s disease. The Champions Campaign includes the use of provocative advertising, celebrity involvement, public relations, online and grassroots marketing and advocacy.

For more information, visit actionalz.

FDA Seeks Public Comment Regarding Albuterol Metered Dose Inhalers Containing Ozone-Depleting Propellants

FDA put on display today a Federal Register notice seeking public comment on a proposal for withdrawing “essential-use” status for albuterol metered-dose inhalers (MDIs) using chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellants. This notice is being issued because two alternatives, non-CFC-based, albuterol MDIs are now available. If the essential-use designation is removed, albuterol MDIs containing an ozone-depleting substance (ODS) could not be marketed after an appropriate transition period.

FDA has tentatively concluded that the two non-CFC based albuterol products will be satisfactory alternatives to the albuterol MDIs containing ODS. In today’s notice FDA is, among other things, soliciting comments on a number of issues including the effective date of the rule and the transition period.

CFCs have been commonly used as propellants for various pressurized products including MDI treatments for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Since 1978, the use of CFC-emitting aerosol products in the United States has been generally banned because of increasing evidence that CFCs contribute to the depletion of the earth’s protective ozone layer.

As a result of an international agreement established through the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the U.S. Clean Air Act, CFC production and importation have also been banned for all commercial purposes in the United States since January 1996. The only exceptions to these bans are products that are considered medically essential with no suitable alternatives. Albuterol CFC-containing MDIs for asthma and COPD have been considered exceptions from the ban. However, under the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act we are expected to phase out these products when suitable alternatives are available.

Although there are compelling reasons to phase out the use of these products, as a public health agency FDA must also weigh the potential public health impacts of such an action.

Under FDA regulations, to remove an essential-use designation, FDA must find that:

– At least one non-CFC product with the same active drug is marketed with the same route of administration, for the same indication, and with approximately the same level of convenience of use as the CFC product containing that active ingredient; (for drug moieties with more than one available CFC product, such as albuterol, more than one non-ozone depleting alternative must be marketed).

– Supplies and production capacity for the non-CFC product(s) exist or will exist at levels sufficient to meet patient needs;

– Adequate U.S. postmarketing use data are available for the non-CFC product(s); and

– Patients who are required to utilize the CFC product for medical reasons are adequately served by the alternative non-CFC product(s) and other available products.

The agency is providing a 60-day public comment period from date of publication on this matter. For additional information, go to: fda

Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

Swine Flu Precautionary Measures Taken At College In Paignton, Devon

The Health Protection Agency is working with Torbay Care Trust and local authorities following the earlier confirmation of a case of swine flu in a pupil at a college in Paignton.

As a precautionary measure, acting under advice from local health protection experts, the college will close at the normal time today and remain closed for seven consecutive days.

Those considered to be potential close-contacts of the pupil confirmed with swine flu are being offered antivirals as a precautionary measure and advised to monitor their health for flu-like symptoms. There is no need for these individuals to isolate themselves from the community unless they show symptoms.

The definition of close contacts is based on interim guidance issued by the Health Protection Agency which states that individuals exposed to a probable or confirmed case within a distance of one metre or less and for longer than one hour should be offered antivirals as a precautionary measure.

General infection control practices and good respiratory hand hygiene can help to reduce transmission of all viruses, including the human swine influenza. This includes:

- Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible.
- Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.
- Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people.
- Cleaning hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.
- Making sure your children follow this advice.

Further information on swine flu is available on the Health Protection Agency’s website at hpa

Health Protection Agency
See a Map Of H1N1 Outbreaks
See our Mexico Swine Flu Blog

Babies Born During High Pollen And Mold Seasons Have Greater Odds Of Wheezing By Age 2

Newborns whose first few months of life coincide with high pollen and mold seasons are at increased risk of developing early symptoms of asthma, suggests a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

Researchers found that children born in the high mold season, which generally encompasses the fall and winter months, have three times the odds of developing wheezing – often an early sign of asthma – by age 2 compared with those born at other times of the year.

The study results, to be reported online Tuesday, Feb. 24 (12:01 a.m. GMT) in the journal Thorax, may help shed light on why babies born in the fall and winter appear to have a higher risk of eventually developing asthma than children born in the summer.

Numerous factors have been linked to asthma risk, including heredity and exposure to air pollution, animal dander and tobacco smoke. A 2008 study of birth and medical records found that babies born in the fall are at greater risk of later developing childhood asthma. That study suggested an influence from early exposure to respiratory viruses, which is more common during the peak of cold and flu season.

“In our study, we took a different tack to understand the link between month of birth and asthma by considering ambient concentrations of fungal spores and pollen, which follow distinct seasonal patterns,” said Kim Harley, associate director of health effects research at UC Berkeley’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health Research and lead author of the new study. “Until our paper, there were very little data about exposure to allergens in the air, which we know can trigger symptoms for those who already have asthma. This is the first study to look at the potential role of early life exposure to multiple outdoor fungal and pollen groups in the development of asthma.”

The researchers examined 514 children born in 1999 and 2000 in California’s Salinas Valley, a region with mild, rainy winters and dry summers. They identified 27 spore and 48 pollen groups in the study, recording the average daily concentrations for the groups that accounted for more than 3 percent of the total during the first three months of life for each child in the study.

The peak of the pollen and spore seasons did not always occur in the same months of each study year, but for this region, ambient mold levels begin to increase in November and December, and pollen peaks in the early spring months of March and April, the researchers said.

After adjusting for such factors as family history of asthma, air pollution, secondhand smoke and signs of cockroaches, rodents or mold in the home, the researchers found that babies born in the fall and winter have triple the odds of developing early wheezing, often a precursor to asthma, by 24 months of age.

High concentrations of two groups of fungal spores, basidiospores and ascospores – emitted from such sources as mushrooms, molds, and rusts on plants – had a significant association with early wheezing at age 2. Basidiospores and ascospores are common outdoor allergen-bearing particles that are more prevalent during periods of rain or high humidity.

Total pollen concentration exposure during the first three months of life was also linked to greater risk of early wheezing. Of the groups of pollen, those from alder, pine and cypress trees had a greater effect than those from oak, mulberry or elm trees.

The researchers noted that definitive diagnoses of asthma are generally not made until children are older, often around school age. As many as 40 percent of children who wheeze early in life may go on to have childhood asthma, especially if they have other allergic symptoms, according to the researchers. They are continuing to follow the children in the study and expect to have findings from lung function tests in another year or two.

“We are not in position to say conclusively why some children develop asthma, or to even suggest precautionary measures to help babies born in the fall and winter,” said Dr. Ira Tager, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and senior author of the study. “We already know that family history is a major risk factor for developing asthma, but the role environmental factors play is still being fleshed out. What this study does is provide valuable clues about airborne allergens that are worth exploring further.”

Harley added that while this study did not directly address the role of respiratory viruses, it is possible that exposure to ambient pollutants combine with early respiratory infections to increase the risk of asthma for fall and winter babies, and that future studies may do well to look at both factors.

This research is part of the Center for the Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas (CHAMACOS), a partnership between UC Berkeley and California’s Salinas Valley community, and directed by study co-author Brenda Eskenazi, UC Berkeley professor of epidemiology and maternal and child health. Additional UC Berkeley researchers on the study are Paurene Duramad, Nina Holland, Jeannette Ferber and Asa Bradman. They are joined by study co-authors Dr. Michael Lipsett and Dr. Janet Macher from the California Department of Public Health; and by Dr. Steven Prager from Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helped support this study.

Source: Sarah Yang

University of California – Berkeley

Actress And Mother Jennifer Garner Joins American Lung Association To Encourage Americans To Get An Influenza Vaccination

Actress Jennifer Garner joins the American Lung Association in a new role as national spokesperson for the Association’s Faces of Influenza education campaign. As one of the many “faces” of influenza, she will encourage families to speak with their health-care providers about annual influenza vaccination.

The Lung Association’s Faces of Influenza campaign aims to put a “face” on influenza (the eighth leading cause of death when combined with pneumonia) and to stress the importance of annual influenza immunization throughout the fall and winter months. As a mother of a young child, Garner is one of the more than 220 million “faces” recommended to be vaccinated this and every year.

“Women play an important role in a family. It’s our job to take care of those we love, that’s why I make sure my family is protected against influenza,” said Garner. “As one of the many Faces of Influenza, you and I and those close to us need to get vaccinated. Influenza is not the common cold. It’s serious.”

On average, approximately 36,000 people die and about 226,000 are hospitalized due to influenza and its complications in the US every year. More than 2 out of every 3 Americans are recommended for annual vaccination but immunization rates fall far short every year, leaving many unprotected and at risk for severe illness.

Garner is joined by other celebrities, public health officials and everyday people who are part of the Faces of Influenza initiative. Other prominent individuals include: actor Dean Cain, who played Superman on ABC’s Lois and Clark; Olympic Gold Medal figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi; Olympic Gold Medalist, WNBA basketball star Sheryl Swoopes; Dr. Joyce Brothers, well-known psychologist and advice columnist; Joy Behar, comedian and co-host of ABC’s The View; Olympic Gold Medalist Vonetta Flowers; and actor Peter Gallagher.

Each is sharing his or her personal stories on national and local levels about the serious impact influenza and are encouraging influenza vaccination among target groups — according to recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Through the Faces of Influenza program, the American Lung Association’s goal is to reinforce how serious this disease can be for both healthy and high-risk individuals and to emphasize the importance of annual vaccination to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said Norman Edelman, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. “We encourage anyone wanting to prevent influenza to get vaccinated at some point throughout the season, which can be beneficial well into the new year.”

To learn whether you are a “face” of influenza, and where to find a local clinic to receive an influenza vaccination, visit facesofinfluenza.

The campaign will officially kick-off on November 12 with a public vaccination clinic in New York City, where Garner will join Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, MD, MPH and others in encouraging people to seek influenza immunization for themselves and their families. Since the influenza season typically does not peak until February, vaccination should continue throughout the fall and winter months, and even into the spring.

Faces of Influenza Awareness Activities

The Faces of Influenza initiative will conduct widespread awareness activities during the influenza season, including national distribution of new television and radio public service announcements featuring Jennifer Garner. In addition, the campaign features a photo exhibition of dramatic black-and-white portraits and personal stories featuring celebrities and everyday Americans who fall into one or more of groups CDC recommends for annual influenza vaccination.

Cornerstones of the Faces of Influenza initiative are the Faces of Influenza Portrait Gallery and Portrait Book – a photo book and exhibition of dramatic black-and-white portraits and compelling personal stories of famous and not-so-famous Americans, who fall into one or more of the groups recommended for immunization by the CDC.

Visitors to the Web site, facesofinfluenza, can also view the photographs and stories featured in the Faces of Influenza Portrait Gallery. The site offers reporters, consumers and health-care providers various educational materials about influenza and the importance of immunization. These materials are provided in a template and ready-to-use format, and are also available on a CD-ROM. To request a copy of the complete resource kit, e-mail infofacesofinfluenza.

About Influenza

Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that, along with its complications, kills an average of 36,000 Americans and puts approximately 226,000 in the hospital each year. The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccination for anyone wishing to reduce the risk of this disease or spreading it to others. Other target groups include: adults and children with a chronic medical condition, such as asthma, COPD and diabetes, people 50 years of age and older, pregnant women and children 6-59 months of age, as well as their household contacts and caregivers which includes health-care providers, babysitters and others.

The Lung Association continues to offer its online Flu Clinic Locator as a public service. By typing in their 5-digit zip code, site visitors can receive a list of immunization clinics in their area. Site visitors may also schedule reminders and sign up to receive seasonal influenza news. The Flu Clinic Locator will remain active as long as public flu immunization clinics are offered.

About the American Lung Association

Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.”

For more information about the Faces of Influenza educational initiative, visit facesofinfluenza. For information about the American Lung Association lungusa.

The American Lung Association’s Faces of Influenza educational initiative is made possible through a collaboration with sanofi pasteur.


ORNL, St. Jude Track Neurons To Predict And Prevent Disease

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are looking at how developing nerve cells may hold a key to predicting and preventing diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

St. Jude scientists have linked movement and changes of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brains and retinas of young mice to certain diseases. Now, for the first time, they can use ORNL-developed software to analyze these vast amounts of data in record time.

“St. Jude has identified neuron shape abnormalities and neuron migration issues that are linked to specific diseases,” said Shaun Gleason of ORNL’s Measurement Science and Systems Engineering Division. “However, because they have so much data, they can’t study it in great detail.”

Gleason said ORNL is working with Michael Dyer of St. Jude’s Department of Developmental Neurobiology to develop computer software that will automate the process of tracking changes in the shape and position of neurons over time.

One of Gleason’s group members, Ryan Kerekes, already has written software to track the movement of neurons by homing in on each cell’s centrosome – a key cellular structure. This will enable the software to scour a sequence of video images at high speed, looking for specific patterns of migration, Gleason said.

“For example, a member of the St. Jude staff took several weeks to analyze the image data generated by three experiments using a largely manual approach,” Gleason said. “Our algorithm can analyze the same data set in approximately two minutes with almost identical results.

“When St. Jude researchers analyze their images, they look for several specific changes, but there may be much more relevant information in those images that they don’t have the ability to look for. Our software is designed to help them find this information in a more efficient and objective manner, so they can understand more of what’s going on earlier in the developmental process.”

The next stage in software development will be focused on automatically detecting when and how neurons branch or grow. Branching patterns and branch orientations can be critical to distinguishing between normally developing neurons and those with the potential to cause disease, Gleason said.

“The ultimate goal of this research is to develop computational tools that recognize how neurons change and move in ways that are unexpected or abnormal, so that neuroscientists at St. Jude and elsewhere can develop ways of addressing these changes to treat and ultimately to prevent neurological diseases,” Gleason said. “This research team, being composed of image and computational analysis experts at ORNL and experienced neuroscientists at St Jude, is in a great position to solve some challenging problems in a unique way.”


The work is funded by the Seed Money Fund of ORNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.

Jim Pearce

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Alzheimer’s And Cancer Rarely Strike Together, Study

Alzheimer’s disease and cancer rarely strike together concluded researchers in the US who found no such association between vascular dementia
and cancer, adding weight to the idea that cancers and neurological disorders are less likely to occur together, a trend first noticed in people with
Parkinson’s, and latterly in people with multiple sclerosis and Down syndrome.

The discovery was the work of Dr Catherine M. Roe, research instructor in neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis,
Missouri, USA, and colleagues, and a study about it was published online on 23 December in the journal Neurology, with Roe as the lead

Roe told the media that they still found people who had both Alzheimer’s and cancer but to a lesser degree than they expected:

“If there truly is an inverse association, it gives us one more way of finding out what’s going wrong in both cancer and Alzheimer’s, and that could lead
us to new ways to treat either condition,” she added.

Suggestions of a link between cancer and neurological disorders have been mounting for years. Researchers first noticed it in patients with Parkinson’s
disease, who tend to get cancer less often, and then more recently it was suggested that people with multiple sclerosis have fewer tumors, and people
with Down syndrome who live to middle age or older also show fewer incidences of cancer.

The trail that led up to this latest study began when co-author Dr Maria Behrens, now with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in the US
and the Hospital Cl?­nico at the University of Chile in Santiago, noticed that fewer people in nursing homes in her native Chile seemed to have cancer.

This prompted an initial investigation six years ago in the Washington University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC), when Behrens was a
postdoctoral fellow there. She, Roe and colleagues looked at data on volunteers at the ADRC and found that people with Alzheimer’s were slower to
be diagnosed with cancer in the future.

For this study, Roe, Behrens and colleagues looked at data on 3,020 people aged 65 and over enrolled in the Cognition Substudy of the
Cardiovascular Health Study run by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the US. For this prospective cohort study, participants
were monitored for a mean of 5.4 years for dementia and 8.3 years for cancer.

Roe, Behrens and colleagues examined this data with statistical tools called Cox proportional hazards models to look for significant links in two
directions. First they looked for a significant link between dementia prevalence and the risk of future hospitalization for cancer, and then they looked
for a significant link between cancer prevalence and subsequent dementia diagnosis.

Their results showed that:

When the study began, 164 participants had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and 522 with cancer.
During the course of the study, 478 developed dementia and 376 developed invasive cancer.
Compared with those who did not have Alzheimer’s at the start of the study, those who did were 69 per cent less likely to be hospitalized for
Caucasian people who had cancer when the study began were 43 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s later on.
However, this was not the case in minority groups.
No significant links were found between vascular dementia and cancer.

The authors concluded that:

“In white older adults, prevalent Alzheimer disease (AD) was longitudinally associated with a reduced risk of cancer, and a history of cancer was
associated with a reduced risk of AD.”

“Together with other work showing associations between cancer and Parkinson disease, these findings suggest the possibility that cancer is linked to
neurodegeneration,” they added.

Some might say that the results were just reflecting the fact that Alzheimer’s patients were dying before they could be diagnosed with cancer: but Roe said their statistical tools adjusted for this potential confounder. She also commented that patients with vascular dementia died sooner than patients with
Alzheimer’s, yet they still showed a higher risk of developing cancer than patients with Alzheimer’s.

However, the researchers were careful to point out that this study only counted cancer cases that resulted in hospitalization, so inoperable, benign, or
otherwise untreatable cancers may have slipped through unnoticed.

Some experts have commented in the media that more research was needed to confirm the findings of this study.

Professor Clive Ballard, of the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society, told the BBC it was possible that Alzheimer’s was masking the symptoms of cancer, and vice versa,
and thus affect diagnosis.

However, Roe said:

“If the decreased chance of cancer diagnosis was simply due to the fact that physicians don’t notice cancer in people with dementia, the decrease
should have shown up for both the Alzheimer’s patients and those with vascular dementia.”

“But the drop in cancer risk was only seen in those with Alzheimer’s,” she added.

Scientists believe vascular dementia is caused by lack of blood to the brain.

Roe and colleagues are now planning to do a larger study to investigate if Alzheimer’s disease is more strongly linked to particular cancers, and if particular cancers
have a large or small effect on Alzheimer’s risk.

“Cancer linked to Alzheimer disease but not vascular dementia.”

C. M. Roe, A. L. Fitzpatrick, C. Xiong, W. Sieh, L. Kuller, J. P. Miller, M. M. Williams, R. Kopan, M. I. Behrens, and J. C. Morris
Neurology, first published online on December 23, 2009.

Source: Washington University in St Louis, BBC.

: , PhD

Influenza Cases Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) Supply Protocol Update 6 May 2009

Last week over 120,000 units of Tamiflu were ordered from Roche and were delivered to pharmacy
wholesalers. We have good reason to believe that there are stocks of Tamiflu in the supply chain.

This protocol may assist you in ensuring your patients with actual cases of influenza have
ready access to Tamiflu and if you are aware that your local pharmacy has limited Tamiflu

This will be the ordering protocol for a limited time. We will update you in the coming days
as commercial stock levels at Roche are renewed.

General Practitioners:

To ensure access to commercial supplies of Tamiflu for actual cases of influenza, GPs will need to write a
letter stating that the patient has a case of influenza to accompany the script for Tamiflu.

The Patient:

The patient must take this letter and script to a retail pharmacy.

The Pharmacist:

If the pharmacist has stock available they will dispense from current stock. If out of stock, the pharmacist
will need to fax the letter to Roche Products Pty Limited on FAX 1800 641 769
and request direct supply of Tamiflu ($39 per pack).

If the pharmacy does not have a direct account with Roche then payment can be arranged through Visa or
MasterCard only. This can be done over the phone with Roche, PHONE 1800 800 766
Tamiflu will be dispatched to the retail pharmacy via overnight courier. This should be available for the
patient to pick up the following day*.

*Note that Roche will need to receive orders by midday in order to guarantee next day delivery. Saturday
delivery can be arranged at a surcharge.

Minimum Product Information

Tamiflu® (oseltamivir)


Treatment of infections due to influenza A and B viruses in adults and children one year and older. Prevention of influenza in adults and children
one year and older.


Treatment: Adults and adolescents 75 mg twice daily. Paediatric patients: ?‰¤15 kg: 30 mg twice daily; 15-23 kg: 45 mg twice daily; 23-40 kg: 60 mg
twice daily; >40 kg: 75 mg twice daily. Duration of treatment is 5 days. Treatment should be initiated within 48 hours of symptom onset. Prevention:
Adults and adolescents 75 mg daily. Paediatric patients: ?‰¤15 kg: 30 mg once daily; 15-23 kg: 45 mg once daily; 23-40 kg: 60 mg once daily; >40
kg: 75 mg once daily. Duration of therapy is 10 days, beginning within two days of exposure.

Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Effects

TAMIFLU is contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to any component of the product. TAMIFLU should not be used in children
under 1 year of age as safety and efficacy have not been established. Caution is advised when administering to patients with renal failure and
Hereditary Fructose Intolerance. The most common side effects include vomiting, nausea, insomnia, headache, diarrhoea, dizziness and
abdominal pain. In children, also epistaxis, ear disorders and conjunctivitis. Rarely, gastrointestinal bleeding, allergic skin reactions and hepatitis.

Closely monitor for convulsions and delirium, predominately in children and adolescents (causality not established).*
Please review the complete Product Information before prescribing this medicine. A full copy of the Product Information is available on request
from Roche Products Pty Limited.

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View drug information on Tamiflu capsule.